Friday, May 25, 2007

Men, Women, Again

A very special guest-blogger (with whom I’ll be at Niagara Falls over the weekend, so debate politely in our absence) weighs in on the comments of Peter the “seduction community” member who commented so intriguingly in the long thread resulting from my earlier post on feminism (I should say that while I stand by pretty much everything I said in that entry, I acknowledge that this is a vast terrain of never-ending debate, and I emphasized the select areas I felt were being overlooked, often annoyingly so — but, hey, my account of things is arguably far more nuanced than, say,


First, the thing about earnestness being less effective in sexual/romantic success than deception: it’s insane to me that you think it’s just WOMEN who respond to deception. Much to the chagrin of earnest feminists like me, there are tons of workshops and self-help books telling women to stop being so damn earnest and essentially training them to manipulate unsuspecting men into relationships and marriages. Apparently, these “systems” are enormously successful, too. Just to be extra clear, I’m not here to celebrate the deception just because it goes both ways. I find the “how to make him fall in love with you” crap just as depressing as your “seduction community.” I wish there was more honest, good-faith communication between the sexes. Maybe Todd is right, most people are just stupid. But I am not ready to give up hope….

Second, I think what’s interesting about your complaint that women expect you to “cut them more slack” than men is that women say exactly that about men. Like many straight women, I have often felt that men expect to be accommodated and to get their way all the time, at my expense. But just because I “felt” it, I don’t assume I am correct. I don’t think you’re correct about women either. And I don’t think that means one or both of us is irrational. I just think it’s a perception gap.

I suspect gender differences play into this, to a considerable degree. That means we respond to some things differently from you. It doesn’t mean we’re asking for “more slack” — at least no more slack than YOU ask of us (unwittingly, I’m sure). Take for example, Todd’s assertion that women cry as an “emotional manipulation” strategy. Similarly, a lot of women think men become withdrawn and unresponsive in the middle of a conversation (“it’s like hitting my head against a brick wall”) as a bullying tactic. I am sure there are examples where both of these things are intentionally employed as tactics. But for the most part, women aren’t trying to manipulate you when they cry and men aren’t trying to bully us when they shut down. We just respond to frustration differently.

But I don’t think it’s JUST the gender differences. I’ve had lots of male friends and lots of mixed-gender friend circles, so I can tell you that men and women who are platonic friends don’t generally have the same complaints about each other that they do about people they date. I wonder if certain complex needs, emotions, conflicts, etc. aren’t simply inherent in sexual/romantic relationships, regardless of gender. Just ask any gay couple — they seem to have many of the same problems. People have to accommodate mates in ways they don’t need to accommodate friends. These relationships have a different quality of intimacy and trust that seems to require more understanding (“slack” if you will). My friends are extremely important to me and when necessary, I am perfectly willing to cut them a lot of slack, but they generally don’t need it as much (or as regularly) as any of my boyfriends have needed. And the boyfriends could probably say something equivalent about me. (The exception, so far, is my current boyfriend, Todd Seavey — yes, I’m Todd’s liberal, feminist girlfriend — because we seem to share an almost identical joy of hashing out all our differences earnestly. But, if and when the need arises, I’ll be more than happy to cut him some slack, because I trust his good intentions).

Like I said, there seems to be a perception gap between the sexes, which is exacerbated by the existence of assholes (on both sides) and by people’s tendencies to lash out and think the worst others. Those of us who end up being able to relate to the opposite sex without condescending to them, despite having been seriously exasperated by them, do so as a result of some self awareness, a genuine openness to the other’s point of view and a little patience.

If someone — a woman-was really patient with you and open to hearing you out, I think you would feel differently about women and be able to discern the neurotic assholes from the rest of us. But, it’s hard to be open to you when you’ve decided that we’re all irrational and not worth engaging in good faith. Just like women who accuse all men of being misogynists and potential rapists can’t reasonably expect men to sympathize with their position. I understand that your venom comes from bad experiences with women. Believe me, most of male bashing also grows out of the bashers’ personal wounds, dealt (or perceived to have been dealt) by men. These are not good reasons to advocate cutting off the conversation, although I am in no way callous about the scars that you (and the male bashers) have obviously sustained. I hope you will all find ways to heal from them. I’m a romantic, so I also hope all of you will fall in love with someone wonderful any day now!

As far as the “seduction community,” I’m glad to hear that their methods are at least getting you laid, although they have failed to help you with the full relationship you had obviously hoped to find. But I wonder, if this is really working, even just for sex, then why do you have to be grateful for prostitution and porn?

In any case, I’ll take you at your word that your “porking” success rate has improved since you got seduction training. In the same spirit, I trust you will take my word that I have a large circle of women friends who easily are 9s and 10s, are constantly hit on by men, and none of them accept the advances of guys who treat them with disrespect, already have girlfriends, or are full of themselves (confidence and arrogance are not the same thing). And no, my friends aren’t lying to me. I KNOW their dates, boyfriends and husbands. They are the kindest, most decent men you’ll ever meet.

I won’t try to put a number on my own hotness, but I must be passably attractive, since I usually don’t want for male attention (at least when I feel confident and good about myself) and yet — and now I’m asking you to take MY word for it — I have always chosen to be with guys who are good human beings. Certainly, I like a guy who is also “confident and feels good about himself” and is — preferably — some combination of good looking, smart, interesting and funny, AS WELL AS a nice guy. (why do people say “nice guys” when they really mean unattractive, insecure, boring guys who have nothing to recommend them except their alleged “niceness”?) I don’t see how any of my criteria are “irrational” just because they don’t begin and end with “nice.” And no, I’m not just “steering” my sexuality consciously. I’m telling you about my visceral reactions to different kinds of men. An attractive (even a moderately attractive) guy, who is really smart, and genuinely kind and seems to sincerely like and admire me, is a HUGE turn on for me. Arrogant, self-centered men simply turn me off even if they are hunky, smart etc. A whiney, insecure guy doesn’t turn me off quite the same way, but he will never turn me on just by being “nice”. Being nice is a threshold requirement of decent human interaction, not some amazing virtue deserving of special rewards. Most women don’t expect to be rewarded with tons of romantic attention just for being “nice” people.

Yes, there are women out there who are cock-whipped by arrogant, self-centered males, but there are also plenty of guys who are pussy-whipped by arrogant, self-centered females -so this doesn’t really say anything meaningful about the “mating drives” of either sex. (On a related note: Peter claims that women “won’t come to grips” with their mating drives, as opposed to men, who know what they are looking for, which is simply “looks and loyalty.” Really? Care to check out Todd’s “Personal Ad”? Also, if “looks and loyalty” are all Peter is looking for, then, what’s his problem? Why does it matter to him if women are “rational”?)

Of course, there is also the type of woman who just won’t care what kind of person you are or if you are already in a relationship; she’ll want you just because you turn her on sexually. Well, given that MEN behave this way much more regularly — and even brag about it — than women, I find it puzzling that you see this as an example of FEMALE irrationality.

If I may offer a suggestion to Peter and other men who feel the same way, consider this: when you bemoan the fact that “women” are irrational, unresponsive to kindness, and whatever other complaint you have, are you really sampling from the general population of women in your acquaintance? Or do you start with the 9s and 10s (scored that way based on characteristics completely unrelated to the things you are complaining about)? In other words what do you screen for FIRST? If you start by pre-selecting the hottest women around and then lament the low occurrence among them of all those other qualities you seek -well, that’s not really the most “rational” way to go about things, is it? I’m not saying beautiful women can’t be smart, sane, kind and earnest. I’m just saying if your selection criteria are prioritized to place the highest value on X, then your results will be skewed toward more X, and the co-incidence of Y, Z and W will be much more random.

By the way, I checked out (briefly) the two seduction sites that Peter linked to. Of course, the focus of these are ultimately manipulative and therefore distasteful to me, and we (at least the women) have no way of verifying their claims — they have a product to sell to desperate people (just like fad diets that “work”). Still, even assuming the veracity of their claims about results, when you see the type of specific advice that apparently has actually succeeded, it does not seem to support Peter’s conclusion that they work because women are “inherently irrational”.

I have four general areas of observation:

1. One bottom line principle behind these seduction techniques is that you have to (comfortably) exude some sexuality (i.e. flirt) in order for women to respond to you sexually. Well, no shit! Where is the “irrationality” in this? How is someone supposed to find you sexual if you don’t exhibit any sign of it? Interestingly, I found this principle set forth in an entry about the old “nice guy v. jerks” debate. Ladies, you will be relieved to hear that even these seductionist cads admit, very clearly, that women don’t pick “jerk” qualities (rudeness, arrogance, boorishness etc.) over “nice guy” qualities, but rather, that this misunderstanding comes from the fact that the self-proclaimed nice –guys are confusing “niceness” with androgyny and asexuality. My own 2 cents: if you can’t be sexual without being rude, arrogant or boorish, then maybe you’re not such a “nice” guy.

But I’m really not suggesting that all guys with the “nice guy” complaint are latent boors. Some just lack other things women want. And others have honestly come to believe that all sexual behavior they initiate will be somehow offensive to women. I have to lay some of the responsibility for this on certain of my fellow feminists, who have promoted this idea of associating any expression of male sexuality with “violence” and “aggression” and led some good men (like Peter, perhaps) to internalize the notion that flirting is “disrespectful”. I (and a lot of other feminists) summarily reject this notion, but many feminists do endorse it — and I think they are rightly criticized for it.

Incidentally, there’s a pretty widespread belief among a sizable minority of women — usually not feminists — who bemoan the scarcity of “good men”: that men don’t appreciate a good, loyal woman; that it’s those narcissistic, selfish, bitchy women that get all the guys; that to get a man to be loyal and treat you well, you have to be cruel and treat him like crap and keep him insecure about your relationship. In other words “nice girls finish last.” I think these perceptions, just like the “nice guy” problem have less to do with reality than with resentful interpretations of reality.

2. Another key insight shared on the seduction sites is that women find confidence attractive. What’s “irrational” about that? Unless you are confusing confidence with arrogance, rudeness, or boorishness?

By the way, men respond to confidence in women too. Men and women are socialized (or perhaps biologically wired) to convey it differently, but it’s important for both to have it. Notice the way Peter describes the behavior of the “10″ — that’s some serious alpha-female shit! And frankly, in these discussions, when men say “women” they completely leave out of the equation all those mousy, insecure, “nice” women who are sitting in a corner (or at home), pining away for some Mr. Nice Guy to come rescue them. The women these men are “gaming” are the ones that are out there, confident in their sexuality, laughing, dancing, flirting, acting like they own the world. Yes, men are visual, and one of the most important visual cues they respond to is confident body language. The hot girl who also knows she’s hot will get the most guys. Of course confidence doesn’t quite make up for being ugly, but NOT having confidence will doom a mousy girl to be overlooked forever, even if she is technically “pretty.” A girl who is less pretty will be noticed and actually will be considered “hotter” if she cultivates a sense of self or at least a certain look, posture and stride.

I’ve gone through periods of insecurity in my own life -for reasons unrelated to men or sex-but during those periods, suddenly it seemed nobody was attracted to me. As soon as I snapped out of it, stopped caring what anyone thought and went about being myself and rediscovering my joie de vivre, the men came back out of the woodwork trying to get me to notice them. Even though I looked exactly the same. (disclaimer: I belong to a special subspecies of humans, called “nerds” –our mating rituals may be a little different from the rest. Still, I think we can draw parallels).

3. Another general approach of seduction seems to be that instead of complimenting a woman, you make fun of her a little. The claim is that women respond to being demeaned and having their confidence eroded. But lets look at how the specific tactics worked, at least in the video examples I saw. One guy went up and started insulting women. No woman responded well to him. They couldn’t get away from him fast enough. Another guy went up to a really hot girl and said her teeth were cute, like “bugs bunny”. She found him endearing. But note that he was smiling, his body language was friendly and just a little suggestive without being threatening. His comment charmed because it was unexpected (and funny) and seemed unrehearsed. Part of the reason it’s funny is precisely that it seems like an utterly ridiculous pick up strategy. Like George Costanza telling women he’s unemployed and lives with his mother. It has a novelty. And women like guys who are willing to expose themselves that way. Of course, the unemployed-lives-with-mother line will only work if it’s obviously a joke! And I think “bugs bunny” knew she was being joshed with and not insulted for real. To think a gorgeous woman with no dearth of male attention will have her sexual confidence “eroded” based on a stupid comment from a stranger is laughable. Maybe a guy who needs seduction training to find a date has a self image flimsy enough to be swayed this way, but the 9 or 10 he’s “gaming” is probably more secure than that.

4. Some of the other suggestions on the seduction sites are simply manipulation and deception tactics. They have nothing to do with women’s “mating drives.” If you misrepresent who you are and I buy it, that just means I am trusting or gullible. It doesn’t mean I enjoy being deceived or that the fact of being deceived is what I am responding to.

For example, one piece of advice was to lull a woman into a false sense of bonding with you by pretending to be a platonic friend while you get her to talk about her sexual fantasies. Apparently this works.

One reason that a woman may respond to this (and for argument’s sake lets grant that some women do) is that she notices how comfortable she is with you. In other words, she is being turned on by a nice-guy quality. To her, you’re a nice, “easy to talk to” guy who is not asexual and the talk is sexually charged. The fact that this turns her on should make you reject (or at least question) the notion that she is looking for a jerk to demean her. If you choose to think that it’s the fact that you’re actually a deceiver pretending to be a friend that’s the real turn on (as opposed to the sexy talk and the comfortable rapport with you) then it’s your interpretation that’s irrational. Not the chick.

Another reasonable interpretation is that she is turned on by her own sexual thoughts, but the object of her fantasy isn’t available, so she’ll act out her lust on you, as you happen to be around. I don’t see why this should be derision-worthy. If anything, men should identify with this kind of behavior. After all, it’s fairly common for men to admit that when they are horny, they will have sex with any available female, regardless of who they are actually fantasizing about.

One last note about seduction: women have always very successfully used “feminine wiles” and insincere seduction tricks on men too, does that mean men are “inherently irrational”?


And Todd here again, with a concluding note: another issue of dating symmetry and asymmetry will be hashed out in the next of our Debates at Lolita Bar (266 Broome St. at Allen St. on Manhattan’s Lower East Side) at 8pm on Wednesday, June 20, when “Rev. Jen” Miller and Rules for Saying Goodbye author Katherine Taylor (who’s also a libertarian — maybe she’s voting for Ron Paul in the primaries, too!) ask “Is It More Painful to Get Dumped or to Do the Dumping?” I’ll host (and Michel Evanchik will moderate), so by all means come by and debate all these interrelated topics if you like.


Brain said...

The whole community mutters to themselves, confused and uncertain.

“Todd and Koli, sittin’ in a tree,


First comes love, then comes marriage…”

In related note, I am considering having my son Jack briefly assume the webmaster duties of this site.  Expect terse exhortations that Gargamel is poorly understood and falsely villified.  But at least he will continue to favor the blue color scheme

Clara said...

I’m liking this guest blogger. Brava!

Peter Bessman said...

Sorry this response isn’t all that timely, I’ve been withdrawing from teh interblags scene (not that I was all that involved to begin with). Anyway, I don’t honestly have much to say.

All my posts have contributed is the perspective of one dude. As I’ve said before, it ain’t gospel, and shouldn’t be taken as such. The only remotely factual thing is the bit about seduction, and no, I’m still not going to listen to a woman about that. Sorry. Any curious guys should verify it for themselves. Don’t trust anyone (myself included).

The one thing I do want to clarify is that I don’t really think women are inherently illogical in general. That was a mistake on my part.

But, I still stand by my observation that women can’t come to grips with their mating drives, and in the realm of relationships, they act illogically. “Chick logic” is what it’s called in the seduction community (which I am not a part of, any more than a guy who took a vacation in Honolulu is a Hawaiian). See this link for more:

I also don’t know how well the tongue-in-cheek bits of what I wrote came across, but let it be known that I’m really not at all serious about any of this stuff (or anything for that matter, I suppose). I’m not really wallowing in existential despair, for instance. Yeah, I wish the world was populated with nothing but my ideal woman — I also wish I had a million bucks and telepathy. Whatever.

On the whole, I’m quite happy. I’m being super cereal here guys!

Now, you wrote a metric fuck-ton of shit, and I’m ignoring most of it because I’d rather be touching myself. But, if there’s anything in particular you want me to address, let me know.

Koli said...

Hi Peter,

You are right, I was responding to what you wrote –and the point of view it expressed– rather than to who you really are, since I don’t know you aside from what you wrote.

You had posted a “metric-fuck-ton of shit” yourself, upwards of 2000 words –I wanted to do it justice :)

Koli said...

Thanks, Clara!

Clara said...

Sorry to harp on about the dating strategies, but I find it fascinating that anyone takes this sort of thing seriously. I followed that link to the page about seduction, and let me just say: It’s possibly the worst advice you can give a young man-about-town. It’s criminal.

Now, I don’t believe the seduction senseis actually follow their own advice. Insult women? Don’t pay compliments (and don’t pay for anything on dates)? You’re not dating unless you’re sleeping together? This may win over a girl with masochistic tendencies, or maybe a homeless person who needs somewhere to stay, but the rest will run in the opposite direction.

Neg: A negative remark towards a girl designed to break her indifference to you by showing her that you are indifferent to her beauty (or other striking features). Not an insult, that would be bad. More like “Those are interesting nails – are they real?” or “It’s really cute how your nose wiggles when you talk – look, there it goes again! “.

Part of the allure of this advice is that it’s so incredibly democratic. Hey, guys, you don’t need to be handsome, intelligent, talented or even the slightest bit interesting. Just insult a girl — and she’ll swoon!

Did Tom Hanks insult Meg Ryan in “Sleepless in Seattle”? Did Pierre make Natasha open her own doors ‘n’ things in War and Peace? How can these scam artists claim to be tapping into the female mind when there’s an entire canon of romantic literature that contradicts their facade-of-obnoxiousness theory?

One successful jerk in fiction comes to mind, and that’s Steff from “Pretty in Pink.” Bear in mind, however, that a) he was a high-status adonis and b) his nastiness was in fact misdirected frustration at being rejected by the red-headed girl. It doesn’t really count because it was obvious to all parties concerned that he was crazy about her the whole time.

Peter Bessman said...

Sorry to harp on about the dating strategies, but I find it fascinating that anyone takes this sort of thing seriously. I followed that link to the page about seduction, and let me just say: It’s possibly the worst advice you can give a young man-about-town. It’s criminal.

Alright. I’ll bite.

You got no data. And you can say whatever you want, be wrong as hell, and still have sexual success. In fact, to the extent that men are incompetent at seducing women, you have the upper hand, so there’s an incentive for you to decry techniques that actually work. Further, if my hypothesis is correct, and the things that actually reliably lube poon aren’t all that savory in the intellectual abstract, you’ve got an incentive to rationalize this all away.

But most importantly, you’ve got no data. The ASF forums, on the other hand, indicate that this stuff works. Further, it’s independently verifiable. That’s key.

Now, I don’t believe the seduction senseis actually follow their own advice. Insult women? Don’t pay compliments (and don’t pay for anything on dates)? You’re not dating unless you’re sleeping together?

They give boot camps where you pay for a guided tour. They show you how it’s done by doing it. Google up Mystery Method. Read the reviews on his website. There’s more than a few shocked testimonials from established publications on the efficacy of his material, as gleaned from eye witness encounters.

This may win over a girl with masochistic tendencies, or maybe a homeless person who needs somewhere to stay, but the rest will run in the opposite direction.

O RLY? Data. See above.

Did Tom Hanks insult Meg Ryan in “Sleepless in Seattle”? Did Pierre make Natasha open her own doors ‘n’ things in War and Peace?

Those are movies. They portray the world of romance as we’d like to see it, not as it actually is. In the real world, for instance, standing outside the window of a woman who dumped you while blaring Peter Gabriel out of a boombox is far more likely to get you a restraining order than a handjob.

Part of the allure of this advice is that it’s so incredibly democratic. Hey, guys, you don’t need to be handsome, intelligent, talented or even the slightest bit interesting. Just insult a girl — and she’ll swoon!

Clearly you are not putting much effort into any of this. Being handsome, intelligent, and talented are definitely good qualities, in so much as they net you high status, which is what the game is really all about. As for being “the slightest bit interesting,” well, that’s pretty fucking important. A guru called Juggler bases his entire school on a paradigm he calls “Interesting/Interested.” Google for Charisma Arts. His unique nomenclature aside, being interesting is called “demonstrating high value” in seductionese, with the concomitant TLA being DHV. That concept is everywhere. It is fundamental.

A neg, on the other hand, is a dangerous, delicate, advanced technique, that is easily misunderstood and misused, and takes a long long time to master. A lot of folks recommend ignoring negs until you get the basics down. This tree has blinded you to the forest, apparently.

How can these scam artists claim to be tapping into the female mind when there’s an entire canon of romantic literature that contradicts their facade-of-obnoxiousness theory?

Romantic literature is not the reference standard for what gets guys laid. It’s fiction, just like movies. And those scam artists get paid ‘cuz their shit works. You can actually learn everything you need without spending one red cent (that’s what is all about), the learning experience is just a lot less polished.

Again, any int..CONT..

Peter Bessman said...

..CONT..erested guys should self verify. This can be done without paying anybody anything. It simply requires a time investment. You’re building a skill, and like any skill, the biggest cost is paid in time spent honing.

One successful jerk in fiction comes to mind, and that’s Steff from “Pretty in Pink.” Bear in mind, however, that a) he was a high-status adonis and b) his nastiness was in fact misdirected frustration at being rejected by the red-headed girl. It doesn’t really count because it was obvious to all parties concerned that he was crazy about her the whole time.

Again with the fiction. Whatever.

As I’ve said above, you’ve got an incentive to rationalize this all away. This is why I don’t take relationship advice from women any more. Unless she has a particularly strong allegiance to the truth, a woman is probably going to tell me what she thinks ought to happen, as opposed to what actually does.

NOTICE: Having a vagina does not make you a relationship expert.

The library of seduction knowledge has evolved from ordinary guys thinking of an idea, testing it, and — in the unlikely event that it works — keeping it around for refinement and inclusion in the canon. Any interested dudes can learn this stuff for free and see if it’s BS or not. I’m not selling a damn thing here.

I’m also not going to try to convince you that you’re being illogical. That’s probably not possible. But I am trying get this out in the open. I’ve said my piece, all bystanders can do legwork proportional to their interest and draw their own conclusions.

And on that note, I’m done. This is a waste of time. I should be sleeping. Or, y’know, jacking off to hentai porn because, in reality, I’m a 300 pound sweaty freak who couldn’t get a dead hooker to ride his baloney pony.

Gong Tao said...

Peter, you do not seem to understand the meaning of the word ‘data’. What you in fact have to offer are anecdotes, which are no more convincing than Clara’s assertion that these techniques wouldn’t work. I can find testimonials on the internet for any phony baloney you can think of.

I imagine te techniques do work, to a degree, but not for the same reasons you think they do. For one thing, a lot of the advice is not much different from what you would find in The Dale Carnegie Guide to Meeting Women: talk to women a lot, approach a woman you are interested in immediately, don’t complain, talk about the things she is interested in, be funny, tease gently (“negs”) to show that you are not intimidated and make her laugh. These are not exactly great revelations, and clearly anyone who was not doing these things before will have better luck once they start. We don’t need any grand theories about female irrationality to explain why these are good ideas. What I’ve read on the site you recommended could be summarized as follows: ‘women want to meet men, but they want to meet men who are more confident, funny, assertive, and sensitive than you are. Here are the rules to follow to make yourself appear to be what you are not.”

Anyone who consciously sets out to spend a lot of time practicing seduction will get better at it. I would imagine that once you start trying this stuff out the number of women you approach increases by a very large factor, and that alone is going to make a big difference.

Yes, any interested dude can learn this stuff for free, but actually, a lot of us are not interested. I think it would be lot easier to just find a girlfriend that you like and have sex with her. The sex would be much better, too. I can’t imagine anything more tedious than spending my time trying to seduce women, all of my interactions guided by a system, and all of my comments calculated and planned.

Why Soga? said...

To me the seduction community is significant for the simple reason that it gives men a way to think about women, sex, and relationships in terms of power. You may laugh at me for this, but the Seduction Community looks an awful lot like a genuine pro-men’s movement. It appears to say “Look pal, you want to get laid but you can’t–here’s how you do it. We’ve tried out this stuff and it works,” but what it’s really doing is giving men a way to think about relationships in terms free from pro-woman idealism–which I happen to think dominates discussions of relationships and sex. If you’ve been raised to think like a nice guy (the doormat kind) to women–which a lot of nice, friendly, mildly-depressive middle-class boys have–then the ideas in the Seduction Community are like walking down the street and suddenly understanding gravity. What you do with the knowledge is something else. And what you do to become happy is something even further away than that.

Two small, unrelated things:

1) Dingers (negs) are everywhere. It’s not a seduction thing–it’s an interpersonal thing. Look for yourself.

2) Richard Feynman’s “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman” has an interesting chapter on seduction.

Peter Bessman said...

I need to revise my position yet again. Let this be an illustration of how intellectually flexible I am about this (and all) matters — I’m far more interested in being right than in proving any particular point.

Of course, that’s the diplomatic way to phrase it. You could also just say I’m a flip-flopper who makes John Kerry look like a model of consistency. You could also go fuck yourself.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking that woman aren’t necessarily illogical about relationships, in contrast to what I’ve previously asserted. At minimum, saying that women are illogical connotes the wrong thing. It makes it sound like women know that they should approach relationships logically, but they fail to. I don’t think that premise is true, and I’m very reticent to tell anyone what they should be doing about anything, anyway. So that angle of attack is completely wrong.

What I think now is that they take the premise of dating for granted. That is, they don’t tend to try to tease out exactly what they want, and then develop a utility-maximizing strategy. They just do what feels good.

I also happen to think the same can be said for most guys. It certainly applied to me until relatively recently. I never really thought about what I wanted, I just went on instinct, being unhappy with the few girlfriends I had each year, but never actually stopping to figure out what I was ultimately trying to achieve.

Humanity is damn complex, and I’m not going to try to explain/figure out all of our sexual drives in this post. I actually started to do that before I realized that it would be a year and a book later before I ever got finished, and it would probably be wrong and self congratulatory anyway.

The enlightening thing is that when I actually discuss mating strategy with women, they’re receptive.

For instance, I now recall (and don’t know why I didn’t consider this earlier) a very liberal friend whom I discussed this stuff with. We were mutually attracted to each other, but I wouldn’t indulge due to the opposing polarity of our politics. This moment of abstinence was brought to you by pornography, by the way, and lots of it.

Anyway, we wound up discussing our amorous motivations very frankly, and it came up that she had frequently dated men on the opposite team, and that even though she understood why this was a bad idea intellectually, it had zero emotional resonance with her. In fact, she was consistently attracted to this sort of man. I gave her a crash course on the alpha-beta male dichotomy, and theorized that the conservatives she was dating were likely more dominant and sexually stimulating. She actually found it all very enlightening, to my surprise, and began to understand why she had so many nice-guy liberal friends who she “ought” to be dating but couldn’t get attracted to. It also explained why all men seemed to be assholes — confirmation bias from only dating assholes, who happen to be more arousing than nice guys.

Of maximal interest is that after this discussion, she began to understand why seduction tactics worked, even though she previously thought they were BS. Without examining her own sexual psychology, a woman is likely to look at a description of a neg and think “WTF?” That’s certainly what she did. But after accepting the theory that her attraction to a man is directly proportional to the amount of status he had over her, it suddenly seemed plausible.

BTW, this means I also need to redact what I said about women not being able to come to grips with their mating drives. I’ve got too many anecdotes to the contrary — more than just the preceding.

Ultimately, the question I’m trying to answer is “why did I think girls were illogical about dating, and why don’t I any mo..CONT..

Peter Bessman said...” The idea of the unexamined premise answers the latter question. I’ll now take a shot at answering the former.

A woman doesn’t need to understand her motivations in order to get more men with stronger alpha characteristics in her life. Hence books like “The Rules,” and magazines like “Cosmopolitan.” The tips and tricks in there, from my perspective, would actively screen out beta males, but probably work at roping in alphas — which is what a woman gets maximal sexual pleasure from.

An alpha male also doesn’t need to concern himself with female motivations. He is, after all, getting what he wants.

But a beta male is not getting what he wants. So he needs to understand female sexuality in order to get anywhere. Once he does that, he’ll realize that what women say they want and what they actually respond to sexually are two different things. Confronted with this, it seems natural enough to say “women are illogical.”

But that’s not the case.

I now think that women are just ignorant about their sexuality, and I mean that in the best possible case. It’s not willful ignorance, they just don’t know. I’m also of the mind that seduction can be used for good or evil. You can take advantage of a woman, or you can explore her sexuality with her. You can use routines and lie, or you can create a lifestyle that’s more attractive to women.

Women are now sexually liberated, and I personally think that’s for the better. But, in order to fully take advantage of that, I think it would be to their benefit to spend more time understanding their sexuality, and communicating what they want. My hope is that, in the future, when a nice guy asks a woman for dating advice — or makes a botched pass at her — instead of speaking to him in platitudes, she recommends that he visit and learn how to be attractive to women.

By formally acknowledging their sexuality, and the tactics that stoke the fire, women can then get involved in their own seduction. This would increase the pool of attractive males, while decreasing the percentage of that pool that are actually assholes. Most importantly (at least in my eyes), awareness would clear up the ethical issues, and decrease the effectiveness of those tactics that err on the side of deceit. That’s always been the primary source of my discomfort about the whole affair, and selfish creature that I am, I’d surely love to mitigate it.

Also, I’d like to publicly apologize to Clara. Rereading our conversations, I was needlessly acerbic with you, and I’m deeply sorry for that. It also doesn’t reflect how I feel about you at all. Where I actually disagree with you is, in effect, at the margins. And even if I thought you were totally wrong, the fact that you’re making an effort to promulgate what you find attractive warms the cockles of my normally coal-black Dickensian heart.

Clara said...


First of all, I’ve never understood the use of Dickensian as an adjective. Lots of Dickens characters are warm and fuzzy. Do you have the heart of David Copperfield? I’m okay with that. ;-)

I admire you for admitting to a shift in your perspective. I stand by everything I said — on this topic, at least. And I still say the movies are a good place to look to see what men and women want. If an onscreen character appeals to women, it’s not so different from a flesh-and-blood Rick Blaine (“Casablanca”).

I think perhaps people place too much emphasis on interpersonal interactions when it comes to attraction. A lot of a man’s appeal is who he is. That can’t be changed, and if it has any basis in reality, it’s a harsh reality. A woman wants to find a man who is taller, stronger, braver, smarter, witter, more worldly and more mature, higher earning, more knowledgeable than she is about manly things (not makeup application or botany, I’d venture to say) and “handsome” according to whatever early-imprint conception she’s got.

Once a man has covered these bases, there are a few fakeable signals that may or may not have to do with things you said: things like self-confidence and degree of enchantment with a woman (or feigned lack thereof). We can disagree about those. And sometimes a man does all the right things, but he just doesn’t have the right looks to appeal to a particular female, or he’s dressed the wrong way (yes, we have preferences about that), or he reminds her of someone else she doesn’t like, or she’s not interested in a person in his profession for whatever reason.

I think you mentioned being in college or thereabouts. That’s a difficult time of life for men in the dating game. I predict your prospects will improve fiftyfold in the next few years, if only because someone with your intelligence and ambition will experience a dramatic increase in status.

Peter Bessman said...

A woman wants to find a man who is taller, stronger, braver, smarter, witter, more worldly and more mature, higher earning, more knowledgeable than she is about manly things (not makeup application or botany, I’d venture to say) and “handsome” according to whatever early-imprint conception she’s got.

This is what I meant about disagreeing on the margins. You are, in my experience, absolutely right for probably about 99.9% of the women on earth. However, I’d wager that, based on personal experience, only something like 10% of women have actively thought this through. You also strike me as being a not-insignificant distance from the fat part of the intellectual bell curve.

In short, you’re a smart girl who’s very much in tune with her sexuality. But men, by and large, are just trying to get laid by a hot chick. So the tactics they use are miscalibrated for you. Since the aim of most seduction is to pick up the most physically attractive chick possible, her expected intelligence and level of sexual awareness is average.

Most women give out bad dating advice due to ignorance of self — my most recent post is primarily about that. In your case, a portion of your advice is bad not due to ignorance of self, but because you’re explaining how a guy should go about seducing you, when the odds of him actually running in to a girl like you are very slim.

This cuts both ways. My physical requirements for a woman are actually rather lenient — essentially, she just has to be fit. I love me some butterfaces. Of far greater importance to me is her brain.

That said, when a girl asks me for advice on how to attract men, I generally just tell her how best to show off her goods. This probably wouldn’t make her more attractive in my eyes — if I wanted to tell her how to attract me, I’d give her a gun, a guitar, and a compiler, and tell her to start practicing. But she’s probably not going to run into a guy like me, so she’d be misplacing her effort.

So what I am saying (trying to say [as I quote Duncan Sheik mid-post]), and what I failed to say in my prior posts — i.e., where I was an asshole — is that you’re 100% right about what it would take to attract you, but I think you’re only 80% right about what it takes to attract women in general. Not surprisingly, that message got drowned out by what, in retrospect, was basically an eloquent “fuck you.” I did say I’m sorry, right?

On a different note:

I predict your prospects will improve fiftyfold in the next few years, if only because someone with your intelligence and ambition will experience a dramatic increase in status.

I’ve actually got even more redactions that I need to make, but they’ll come later. I’ve got a bad habit of arguing with myself in public, and, in light of that, you might want to reconsider your evaluation of my perspicacity.

Also, I’m not sure where you got this idea that I’m ambitious. My goal in life is basically to be Magnum PI — or, failing that, The Dude. But hey, your flattery is appreciated, and if I end up ruling the world through a twist of fate, you’ll get a commemorative beanie baby.

Peter Bessman said...

Here’s another post where I argue that I’m an idiot. Previously, I’m on record as saying “the modern woman seems to have no notion of honesty, reliability, responsibility, integrity, honor, or any of the other bedrock characteristics of good character (good game feminism).” I now think this is wrong — or, more specifically, and per the usual, it connotes the wrong thing.

Basically, most women fall short of the standards of conduct that I hold myself to. Thing is, most men don’t measure up either. And in fairness, I frequently disappoint myself, as in cases where I make stupid errors in logic like this. So those charges I enumerated, to the extent that the apply at all, are not female specific, and I was wrong for making it sound like they were.

The only uniquely-female slant to this is that women have a bit of legal privilege that lets them get away with more than men do. Recently, a girl at the club I bounce at managed to get a guy hauled away in cuffs by claiming he groped her, regardless of the numerous witnesses of both genders claiming to the contrary. I’ve never seen a man do something similar. But, that doesn’t mean that men are any better — they just can’t get away with that kind of behavior.

Man, I’m starting to feel like Richard Gabriel over here.